|Rifling||4 grooves, RH|
|Magazine Capacity||25 round box magazine or 75 round saddle drum magazine|
|Caliber||7.92 x 57mm Mauser|
|Muzzle Velocity||823 meters/second|
|Cyclic Rate||650 rounds/minute|
|In Service Dates||c. 1930-1935|
|Country of Origin||Germany|
Constructed from old Dreyse guns left over from World War I, the Machinengewehr Modell 13 (MG13) was an air-cooled, bipod-mounted, light machine gun. It fired the standard 7.92 x 57 Mauser German infantry rifle cartridge.
Although the hand-cranked Gatling gun had shown the effectiveness of massive firepower during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, it wasn’t until World War I that military leaders began to appreciate the potential of the machine gun. Infantry charges were stopped in their tracks by this incredible killing machine. The American-born Hiram Stevens Maxim developed the first practical machine gun in England in 1885; the German Army used it to great advantage during the Great War, relying on designs by Maxim, Bergmann, Schmeisser, and Gast.
In 1907, Louis Schmeisser was granted a patent for a machine gun that was to become the Dreyse Model 10. The water-cooled, tripod-mounted, short-recoil gun was designed for sustained fire. From 1933-1936, as Germany rebuild its armed forces, the remaining Dreyse MG10s and MG15s were converted from water-cooled to air-cooled operation by using a perforated barrel jacket for use as light machine guns. They were fitted with a bipod, a carrying handle and a folding tubular buttstock with a leather cover and rubber pads. Two magazine options were available: a 25-round box magazine and a 75-round saddle drum.
The MG13 was a stopgap measure. Even while existing stocks of Dreyse machine guns were converted into MG13s, development work was underway for the MG34, perhaps the world’s first multi-purpose machine gun. The MG34, with a cyclic rate of 800-900 rounds/minute, was an air-cooled, belt-fed machine gun that could be adapted to some mounts, from bipod to tripod the anti-aircraft. After the MG34 became standard Wehrmacht issue, the MG13s were sold to Portugal. There they were used until the 1950s, even later in the colonies, and from there they found their way into various Central African countries.
One of the oddest machine guns of World War I was the Gast-Machinengewehr, and aircraft-mounted gun. To increase the cyclic rate, Gast created a double barrel mechanism in which the recoil of one barrel unit powers the other unit’s feed cycle. Huge-spring loaded, 192-round drum magazines sat on either side of the gun, which had a cyclic rate of 1300 rounds/minute.